News release

Affordable, Sustainable Universities for Nova Scotia

The province announced university funding today, Oct. 12, designed to ensure universities continue to attract students and remain sustainable while protecting Nova Scotia students by holding tuition rates at, or below, the national average.

The 2013-14 operating grants to universities will total $314 million. That is about $10 million less than last year, however the province has provided $10 million in funding for the University Excellence and Innovation Program, leaving universities with the same overall money.

"The University Excellence and Innovation Program is a critical incentive that will ensure universities aggressively pursue changes that will keep them sustainable for years to come," said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Marilyn More.

Today's funding announcement continues a three per cent cap on tuition increases that ensures tuition rates for Nova Scotian undergrad students in Nova Scotian universities remain at, or below, the national average. Nova Scotia universities had some of the lowest tuition rates in the region this year. Tuition increases in other Maritime provinces were as high as four per cent for an undergraduate degree.

To help keep a university education affordable for Nova Scotian families, the province invested more than $90 million over the past two budgets in student assistance. This means students receive more assistance through non-repayable grants instead of loans, and have more money to cover the day-to-day costs of going to university, including food, rent, transportation and books.

"For years, students faced some of the highest tuition rates in the country. Families struggle to help send their children to university," said Ms. More. "In the past, more graduated with a high debt load that took years to pay off.

"We listened and chose to make investments in our students that helped make university more affordable. We put a debt cap on the amount of debt a student can carry, and we placed an emphasis on excellence and innovation for future generations."

The province implemented a $25-million University Excellence and Innovation Program as part of a three-year memorandum of understanding with universities announced in January. The program supports partnerships between universities that help find areas to reduce costs, expand inter-university co-operation and foster innovation and educational excellence.

The University Excellence and Innovation Program paid out $1.4 million in grants to universities in 2011-12. Today's announcement ensures the program will pay a further $13.6 million in grants in 2012-13 and $10 million in 2013-14.

"The status quo is no longer an option. The University Excellence and Innovation Program encourages universities to collaborate and look for new ideas to provide first rate education," said Ms. More. "At the same time, our tuition caps are keeping increases low and tuition steady, and our investments in student assistance are ensuring our students graduate with a lower debt burden."

This plan is working. A recent Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission report compared tuition rates across the Maritimes. When the province's $1,283 bursary was factored in, Nova Scotia had the lowest undergraduate arts and sciences tuition in the region.

The province is announcing the 2013-14 operating grants for Nova Scotia's 10 universities more than two months ahead of schedule.

"We work closely with the universities and with student groups," said Ms. More. "They have told us earlier is better in terms of knowing what the province is able to contribute. This early announcement will enable universities to build their budgets and to establish tuition and other living costs, giving students and their families more time to plan."

FOR BROADCAST USE:

The province has released the 2013-14 operating grants for universities, totalling 314 million dollars.

Ten million dollars from the University Excellence and Innovation Program that helps universities reduce their operating costs will keep university funding at the same overall level as last year.

Labour and Advanced Education Minister Marilyn More says the province has listened and has made investments in students that is making university more affordable.

Tuition will not be allowed to increase more than three per cent.

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Media Contact:

Kevin Finch
Labour and Advanced Education 902-424-0847 E-mail: